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City Desk

On July 27, asylum applicant Huazhen Chen got the news for which she’d been waiting for more than 19 months. Her lawyers called to tell her that Charles Ziethen, assistant district director for detention and deportation for the Washington District Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, had authorized her release from Riverside Regional Jail in Hopewell, Va. Chen had been incarcerated since she arrived at Dulles Airport, in December 1999, after telling immigration officials she could not go home for fear of being punished for violating China’s one-child policy (“Insane Asylum,” 1/26). An immigration judge in Arlington denied Chen’s asylum claim after a May 2000 hearing, but the Board of Immigration Appeals unanimously reversed that decision in the spring. Chen walked free on July 30, and a new trial is set for this fall, according to Deborah Ann Sanders, an immigration attorney who advocated Chen’s release. Until that trial, Chen says, she will stay with relatives. —Annys Shin